Skip to content

Author: Amy Davies

Awareness & Embodiment Practices for Nervous System Regulation

This post is based upon  a talk I delivered to Stockport ME Group on Friday 11th June 2021. Nervous system (NS) dysregulation is a key component of pain and fatigue conditions. In this session I talked about how awareness and body-based practices can help improve the function of our nervous system. We can think of the nervous system as having 3 ‘branches’: 1) Parasympathetic/ventral vagal/social engagement/‘rest and digest’ mode 2) Sympathetic/‘fight or flight’ 3) Dorsal vagal – sometimes referred to as ‘collapse or shutdown’ Our nervous system (NS) acts as a protective mechanism which alerts us to ‘threats’ or ‘stressors’, so that we can take action. At a physiological level, our stress response is designed to be activated in short, sharp bursts e.g. we…

On Embodiment Coaching

Somatic movement and embodiment based practices have had a profound effect on me. As part of my recovery from intense and prolonged pain, I turned my attention towards the subtle aspects of how I moved throughout everyday life. I learnt how my history and often subconscious thoughts about myself and the world around me were being expressed through my body. This created a feedback loop. My whole being embodying these restrictive states. What does this look like, you might ask? Well, some of my personal initial discoveries were: I noticed that each time I left the house for a former…

‘Over-doing’

I often refer to myself as a ‘recovering over-doer’.   Through contemplative practice, I realise that tendencies towards excess doing and thinking have been a long held pattern.  Looking back to childhood, I remember gleefully dancing at a family member’s wedding, not stopping until I reached the point of physical sickness and exhaustion. I almost passed out in the toilets after grading for my karate brown belt with two injured knees. Over the past weekend, I laughed with self deprecation as my Mum recounted the time I insisted on taking (and passing) a clarinet exam whilst in a neck brace (and a lot of…

The Negativity Bias

Neuroscience coined the term “negativity bias” to describe the innate human tendency to focus on the ‘bad’/less satisfactory aspects of our experience. Whilst we can place our head in our hands at this knowledge, it is an important part of our evolution. Being aware of ‘threats’ has enabled us to survive as a species. It is a protective mechanism. This motivated our ancestors to brave the elements to source food and build shelter. It provided a ‘boost’ of adrenaline to help them flee or hide from wild animals.  Whilst the threats of the modern world are often different to that…

Sensory Rest

Consciously taking sensory rest can be an incredibly beneficial tool, when managing fatigue.  What is sensory rest?    In modern life, we are frequently exposed to a large variety of ongoing, sensory input – think; sound, light, smell etc. Our nervous system is constantly taking in this information as a means of assessing the perceived level of safety in our environment.   The design of the nervous system is geared towards our ancestral ‘hunter gatherer’ nature, rather than the demands of the ‘information age’. Whilst incredibly intelligent, the nervous system is not designed to optimally process such persistent high levels of stimuli. Processing…

On Pain

We are all familiar with pain. Most of us have encountered some sort of injury or illness and the uncomfortable physical sensations that arise from this. The purpose of pain and how it works as a function are however less widely understood. Acute pain is physical sensation that is tied to tissue damage – say some sort of injury or maybe an infection. Chronic pain is something that lasts longer than three months and cannot always be attributed to tissue damage or known illness. People’s individual experiences of pain vary greatly. The severity of injury does not automatically correlate with…

On Mindfulness

I took this photo, whilst strolling through the garden of Elizabeth Gaskell’s house, just prior to the final session of my Breathworks ‘Mindfulness for Health’ course, through Greater Manchester’s Living with Fatigue and Pain service. It was an apt reminder to pause; pay attention to the senses and notice the small, yet beautiful details of life, that we often overlook.  Life isn’t all roses; each of us suffers, we all encounter difficulty. We all have pain. Mindfulness does not eradicate these things. How could it? These qualities all contribute to the wide spectrum of human emotion. Frailty and vulnerability all…